In December 1941, after months of rising tensions over an oil and steel embargo, Japan attacked both the United States and the British Empire.
New Zealand had long felt it was in the firing line – even 35 years earlier when Japan was an ally of Britain. And the effects of the ‘Japanese blitzkrieg’ swiftly shattered the pivot of New Zealand’s defence policy, a British naval base in Singapore to which the Royal Navy would send its main battle-fleet in the event of war. By late 1941, Britain was fully stretched in the European theatre.
But the United States was also in the struggle – and by August 1942, US Marines were pouring into New Zealand. They came not to defend the place against attack, but because New Zealand had become the main base for the campaign into the islands. New Zealand forces joined US and Australian forces in the Solomons that year.
Back in 2003, I wrote a book about it – and I’m delighted to say… it’s baaaack! In a second edition and a nice new cover. The photo of the yosegaki hinomaru (Good Luck Flag) is mine; it’s something my grandfather brought back from the war. Japanese soldiers would carry it into battle, signed by family and friends – and, as this example, a fair number ended up falling into Allied hands. I hope I photographed it the right way around.
It’s available in any good New Zealand bookstore – or, in any event, through Amazon. Click to buy.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2018